Shanghai Keeps its Identity in the City Renewal
Shanghai is the biggest city of China and is being transformed from one of the biggest industrial centers into an open, multi-functional economic center. Under the slogan " a new look for the city in one year, the astonishing changes in three years ", the great change has taken place in the urban reconstruction and redevelopment. Architects and urban planner have to put more attention to create an identity of Shanghai in the city renewal.
Shanghai is the biggest metropolis of China. In 2000, its population amounts to 14.7 million, with a territory of 6340.5 sq. km. Since last ten years, the industrial structure of Shanghai is undergoing a great change. The tertiary industry, finance, commerce, trade, communication, real estate and other service sectors are playing a more and more important role in the city's economy. Shanghai is being transformed from one of the biggest industrial centers into an open, multi-functional economic center. The opening policy and reform in the 1980s and further in 1990s brought Shanghai a brand-new start and provided much opportunity for the urban construction.
In the history, the city and architecture of Shanghai are deeply influenced by intercultural context, and today are undergoing a significant and rapid transformation.
The forming of Shanghai city depends on four resources: the geo-graphical condition; the geo-political factor; the geo-economical factor, the living style and quality.
In China, the most Chinese cities have a very long history but were not changed greatly during the developing course until the recent economical impact. Today, the physical structure of the Chinese society is undergoing an unprecedented rapid, extensive and profound transformation. In this course, the philosophy, the sense of value, religion, geography and others have played a very important role, which forms or loses the identity of Chinese cities.
In Shanghai, many radical changes happened for last 50 years. The city is gradually transformed from a self-sufficient economy to an open economy, from an industrial city to a post-industrial city, from low-rise with medium density to a high density and crowded city. For last 50 years, because of the rapid transformation from a semi-feudal and semi-colonized society to a modern one, the city is suffering some serious problems. In one hand, a strong government control for the economical development is revealed. In other hand, market oriented economy is playing a more and more important role in daily life. The living style is undergoing a radical change. It has brought a conflict between planned and random development, and this situation will generate confusion in urban planning and construction.
The identity of Shanghai contains two aspects; one is the form, material part, that we can see it, includes architectural forms, space shape, style and features of region; the other one is, that we cann’t see it, mode of the association of the inhabitants, the urban fabric and characteristics of the community structure.
The city of Shanghai developed very rapidly. In 1950s, the urban area of Shanghai was 82.4 square kilometers, by the end of 1980s, it was 748.71 square kilometers and in 2000 it is 3924.24 square kilometers. Since early 1990s, Shanghai has already set up a strategy for urban development. One program of all is planned by the Urban Planning Bureau to preserve the whole central city as a historical center, at the same time, 398 buildings are included in a list for historical preservation, 11 historical areas are listed for the preservation of its fabric and urban features. There are altogether 234 complete historical neighborhoods, of which 22 historical blocks are formed, and 440 historical architectural groups, covering an area of 10 million sq.m. According to the program, 4 historical and cultural towns, 3 scenic and tourist zones, and 2 natural reserves are classified in the suburbs. A multi-level protective and development mechanism is thus established. In the course of large-scale construction and development under the circumstance of rapid renewal and regeneration of the old city, efforts have to be made for the preservation of the housing and residences with historical and cultural significance, and the preservation of the features of the historical area. Because of the profit driven system of the urban administration, the urban renewal has destroyed a lot of old housing. The traditional urban fabric is undergoing a rapid transformation, which has made Shanghai a city similar with other cities elsewhere in the world. The identity of the city is gradually losing. Since last 20 years, with the market economy and the commercialization of the professional architect, a lot of old buildings with qualified craftsmanship are being replaced by crudely constructed masses. Since middle of 1980s, a so-called pseudo-neo-classicism is popularly defused in the city. Contemporary Shanghai architecture is threatened by the copy of superficial Disneyland and cartoon style.
How to keep the identity of the city in the city renewal?
The Xin Tian Di plan offers a new approach for the urban renewal, to create a compact and workable district center, which is located between Shanghai's ancient walled city and its dynamic downtown. The idea of the project is intended to bridge the old and the new. It is a development that will ultimately accommodate 1.6 million square meters of retail, housing, office, and hotels. The main goals were to create a sense of place and to sensitively integrate the new development into the city's existing fabric. The district's various uses are brought together around a central open space that features a 3.7-hectare manmade lake. As one of the approaches for the renewal of the old Lilong housing, it has the methodological value, but it can not be the ideal model for the renewal of historical residential areas in Shanghai. The F5 F6 layout has arbitrarily changed the urban fabric and cut down the context. The artificial lake was dug up from a land of an old residential district. Just a very small part of the housing is preserved and the original function has been transformed to a commercial area. The surrounding old housings will be soon replaced by high-rise and luxury buildings. The Xin Tian Di Project has generated a discussion on the general worry about the rapid destroy of the old urban fabric in Shanghai.
Jin Mao tower
Jin Mao tower is placed in Pudong, Lujiazui CBD,and together with The Oriental Pearl Tower it creates the main part of Shanghai's skyline, it is the tallest building in China, the third tallest one in the world. The 420.5-meter Jin Mao Tower, covering a site area of 24,000 m² , includes an 88-floor tower, a 6-floor podium and a 3-floor underground with a combined floor space of 290,000 m². It provides such functions as office, hotel, catering, sightseeing, convention and exhibition, entertainment and shopping.
The Skywalk on the 88th floor is the largest and highest observation deck in China. It is 340.1m above the ground and has a floor space of 1,520m². Travelling at a speed of 9.1m/s, two express lifts take visitors to the Skywalk within 45 seconds. Here you will never fail to marvel at the charm and magnificance of rosy dawn and sunset, the blue sky and myriad of clouds. You are also inspired with the overwhelming Shanghai skyline. Looking down inside the building, you can see the hotel atrium of Grand Hyatt Shanghai. The 152-meter atrium, arising from the 56th floor, is surrounded by 28 annular corridors to create a 'Time and Space Tunnel'.
The Form of the tower follows pagoda, a traditional Chinese architecture, and the building combined modern science and technology with ancient Chinese architectural style, created a new “Hai Pai” (Shanghai Style) skyscraper, now it becomes a representative works to the new classic architecture, and set an example to create an identity of Shanghai.
A transformation work for the waterfront of Suzhou Creek is now put into operation within 17 kilometers long water channel. Suzhou Creek once was a river for transportation use. Along by the creek, there were a lots of factories, warehouse, wharves and shanty town. The creek was strongly polluted 10 years ago. As the city is transformed from an industrial city to a post-industrial city, the local government decided to move the factories out of downtown and to purify the creek. One remarkable way to renew the space is the artists from all over the country come here, they change the functions of the buildings to art studios, art gallery, design center, bar, tea house, but preserve the historical buildings original style, and keep the old urban fabric in Shanghai. Another design from my students is to creat a new landscape of the city. The place is former wharf of coal along by the creek and now s discarded. The idea of the design is put the public space to the underground and plant the tree, build a falling water in order to creat an ecological urban space. This is the another way how to keep the identity in the city renewal.
In the world, no one city like Shanghai changed so much in such a short period. For the future development, Shanghai's architects and urban planner have already realized the critical situation of urban space, and put more attention to it. The key point of the urban space is to create an identity of Shanghai.
F1 map of Shanghai
F2 Highway system of Shanghai
F3 Tea house in Yuyuan Garden
F4 The bund
F5,F6 Xin Tian Di
F7 Jin Mao Tower
F9 Project for Suzhou Creek
F10 warehouse along by the Creek